Saturday night marks the return of P.K. Subban to the Bell Centre. It will be his second trip to Montreal since he was traded last year to the Nashville Predators. Subban’s return will always be big news in Montreal. He affected so many people in many ways. Mostly though the trade angered many fans and soured them on the Montreal Canadiens management team.
Subban was a fan favourite in Montreal (and Nashville) and his trade is still felt by Habs fans to this day. While players are traded all the time, there was something about how this trade went down and what it represented that still has so many fans upset about it. There is another portion of Habs fans that scream down angry Habs fans, telling them to get over it. Stop telling me to get over it.
Stop Telling Me To Get Over the P.K. Subban Trade
The Canadiens are having a disastrous season. They have no realistic chance of making the playoffs. The roster is in shambles and there is not much excitement for the future. Habs fans are feeling pretty low. Subban, meanwhile, comes to town in the midst of a great season. He leads the NHL among defensemen with 15 goals and leads the Predators with 43 points. He is considered a front-runner for the Norris Trophy as the leagues top defencemen. Subban is looking like the player that many hoped and feared he would become. Unfortunately its not with the Canadiens.
Trading Subban was a mistake at the time and with every passing year, it’s a trade that gets worse for the Habs. Not to take anything away from Shea Weber, who is a fantastic player in his own right. I’m not going to rehash the age/contract/salary cap issues of the trade but Weber represents an old style of hockey that is fading away. Subban is hockey’s present and future. It’s a trade that the Habs will be trying to get out from for years to come.
Get On Your Feet
As soon as Subban was called up to the Habs during the 2010 NHL playoffs, he provided the Habs faithful with some great memories. He replaced an injured Andrei Markov in the second round against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Subban scored one goal and eight points in 14 games. Quickly, Subban established himself as a big game player for the Habs and a fan favourite. Subban is a modern NHL defenceman. One that can skate, drive the offence, has great vision, excellent hockey sense and (of course) play solid defence.
Subban plays hockey with such a frenetic energy, it’s contagious. Whether through his powerful stride that looks as if he is trying chop up the ice, or his energetic celebrations after a Habs goal, the effort and energy Subban brought to every game could be felt throughout the arena and into homes through television or radio. He had the ability to get Habs fans out of their seats. He electrified Montreal for six seasons. Whether it was with his booming shot, joining the rush, making a great pass or throwing a big hit, Subban made the Habs a must watch during his time here.
Exciting players, like Subban, are rare and should be treated as rare. Since his trade, the Habs have been a very dull team to watch, providing very little excitement for their fans. Something that is starting to be reflected in ticket sales at the Bell Centre.
Embrace The Spotlight
Playing in Montreal is not an easy thing. The expectation and pressure that comes with playing for the winningest franchise in the NHL takes a toll on players. In the past 25 years, there have not been many players that embraced and lived up to those expectations. Subban was one of those players. Not since Patrick Roy, did the Habs have a player that was so comfortable under the Montreal microscope. Subban accepted the responsibility of what playing for the Montreal Canadiens meant and all the pressure that came along with it. Some players wilt under that pressure, Subban grew. The bigger the game, the better he played.
Subban showed up ready to play and elevated his game when it mattered most, the playoffs. He continually scored enormous goals for the Canadiens in their playoff runs, especially against the Boston Bruins. He scored big goal after big goal after big goal for the Habs against the Bruins in the playoffs. Subban didn’t save his strong games for only the Bruins in the playoffs, but it was extra sweet for the Habs faithful that he was able to torture the B’s throughout his time with the Canadiens.
Make Me Forget
The best way to make fans ‘get over’ the trade is for the Canadiens to win. Unfortunately, the Canadiens seem to be on a downward trajectory. It was the fear and frustration of fans when the trade was announced. The Habs would start to stumble while Subban flourishes elsewhere. Subban is blossoming into one of the top defencemen in the NHL. He comes back to the Bell Centre on track to win his second Norris Trophy this year. Watching Subban’s and Nashville’s success makes accepting this trade even more difficult. It’s a reminder of what the Canadiens could have been, rather than what they have become.
You want me to get over it, the Habs need to contend. You want me to get over it, the Habs should be exciting to watch. I can’t get over it because the Canadiens are such a mess right now that I can’t get over it. You want me to get over it, the Habs need to make me get over it.